Saturday, February 24, 2007

Food Immersion

I’m immersing myself in food right now. Giada is on Food Network informing me that her friends are going to love her balsamic chicken drumettes. My new Cooking Light magazine is open to an article called Superfast Supers. And, my Web browser is displaying the recipe section of the Weight Watchers Web site. The only thing I’m not actually doing is eating—I am, in fact, trying to write a grocery list.

Grocery shopping these days can be a challenge—I mentioned this in a recent post. Not only is it difficult to do a cost-benefit analysis of healthy eating, it’s also difficult to plan to eat in general... hence the immersion in food.

I’m focusing on dropping a few pounds, and slowly, but surely the numbers are heading south. But when I stumble, I generally stumble because I either lack a plan for dinner or I disregard my plan for dinner. Breakfast is a snap (Go Lean bar on the go); Lunch is a breeze (lately I make a batch of chicken salad for the week, pair it with a whole wheat pita—little protein, little fiber—slice up strawberries, and finish it off with low fat string cheese). I’ve even learned to navigate the trapping of working in an office with people who like to bring and share treats, and I’m rarely swayed off track by temptation between the hours of 9am and 5pm.

Then dinner. I usually get home after 7pm, depending on my after-work activities. By the time I walk into my apartment, I haven’t eaten in about four or five hours, and I’ve probably been at the gym. Bottom line... I am famished. I am ready and willing to eat the first thing that I can stuff in my mouth. Screw cooking. Throw some Amy’s Pizza Snacks in the microwave, and give me some crackers, some pita and hummus, a low-fat fudge pop, and we’ll call it a meal.

See where I get into trouble? This food free-for-all makes for perfect overeating conditions. What’s a girl to do?

The answer seems so obvious—suck it up and make dinner stupid—but this, like most things, is easier said than done. Preparing dinner for one person poses its own set of challenges. And while there have been times in my life when I’ve really enjoyed cooking, now is not one of those times. Lately, I do best with recipes that utilize canned and frozen foods… as little preparation as possible… just throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and heat it through.

Then, as you probably know, most recipes are not for one person—or two people. Which means leftovers, leftovers, leftovers. I usually have three to five servings of a meal to wrap up and store in the fridge. So, if I’m not going to waste food, I have to eat this meal three to five more times within about three to five days. Even if I like something, that’s a lot of the same meal over and over and over again. And if I didn’t like it so much the first time, forget about eating it again. In the trash it goes. I might as well just dig a hole outside, throw some money in it, and light it on fire. Best case scenerio for leftovers, it's something that I like enough to eat again, and something light and portable that could double as a lunch option.

So this week, I’m planning ahead, keeping my current challenges in mind, and making some meals that will store well, maybe even freeze, and travel well. Keni sent me this recipe and I’m going to give it a try:

Taco Soup
1 pound ground turkey
1 lg chopped onion
2 cans chili beans
1 can corn (drained)
1 can chili style diced tomatoes or Rotel Chili Fixin tomatoes
16 oz canned tomato sauce
1.5 cups water
taco seasoning packet
ranch dressing seasoning packet
1 can green chilies

Brown meat and onion in a skillet. Bring tomatoes, water, and tomato sauce to a boil in a large pot. When meat is done, add it to the pot as well as other ingredients. Heat until hot all the way through.

I think I’m going to substitute the water for chicken stock for a little more flavor (but not a lot of calories).

I also found this recipe in Cooking Light’s Superfast Suppers article: Sausage and Spinach Soup. Chances are I’ll substitute the fresh herbs for dry herbs.

That’s a lot of soup, but it’s still pretty chilly outside, soups tend to keep pretty well, both of these sound hearty, and while some preparation is involved, both look like pretty quick and easy recipes. I’ll let you know how it goes…

Sometimes I think "diet" has become a four-letter word. "It's a lifestyle change," the experts say, not a diet--this is for life. Well... I can try to fool myself, but as long as I'm trying to lose weight, it's really a diet. Once I've lost it and am maintaining, that's the lifestyle change. I think I'm finally coming to terms with the fact that no matter how many diet books and magazines I read, one thing remains constant... all the tips and tricks of the trade will not change the fact that to loss weight you have to have some willpower. Willpower to get yourself to the gym, to sidestep cookies at the office, to make a healthy dinner, to not pick up the phone and call for Chinese takeout (I should really take House of Wah Sun out of my contacts in my cell). No amount of make-ahead meals, diet foods, support systems, or trendy aerobics classes are going to change the fact that if I can't control my eating, I am not going to reach my goal.

Damn you reality! (You can't see me, but I'm shaking my fist defiantly in the air at reality.)

1 comment:

Kendra said...

Trust me, the taco soup is not lacking in flavor. I did omit the green chilis though, but only because I couldn't find them and no longer felt like wandering the aisles at the store.